From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
With a few subtle adjustments—change the cake to a cherry pie, the boy to two girls, lose the pipe but keep the dog—this Norman Rockwell image could have illustrated the Robb household fifty-some years ago. My dad wasn’t a book reader but he devoured newspapers.

Since his office was next-door to the newspaper office, he’d come home every night with the Pittsburg Headlight which he read along with the Topeka Capitol-Journal (that came in the mail) after supper. Our mother may have instilled our love for reading books but it was our father who showed us the importance of keeping up with the news.

Women of all ages make up the majority of our library patrons but during my tenure here I’ve seen an increasing number of men browsing the book shelves. Many have told me they didn’t become readers until after retirement—they then had time to devote to novels and non-fiction tomes. And they are some of the most voracious readers and the ones most likely to keep me on my toes.

But my book-loving heart soars when I see dads—and grandads—bring young kids to Story Time and various children’s programs. What wonderful behavior they’re modeling for those impressionable minds! Even better is when they bring the young ones upstairs while they find books for themselves. Reading parents produce reading children, who then grow up and continue the cycle, thus ensuring the livelihoods of librarians and booksellers for years to come.

Books about fathers range from heartfelt memoirs, such as “Papa, My Father: a Celebration of Dads” by Leo Buscaglia, to lighter weight fare like Al Roker’s “Big Shoes: in Celebration of Dads and Fatherhood.” Then we can go to the laugh out loud funny “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan.

My father did become a book reader in his later years. When I came up with the idea of the Library Centennial reading program which challenged folks to read 100 library books during the 2002 calendar year, he decided to take part. Despite macular degeneration, he read 100 Large Print books (it helped that he had his own personal book selector and delivery person who kept him well supplied). He was quite proud of his achievement—as well he should have been—and continued to read as much as he could until his death two years later.

So, I challenge dads of all ages—come to the library, preferably with your child(ren), and check out a book (we’ll help you find a good one). You don’t have to read 100, just one will do. And spend your Father’s Day reading alongside the family. It’s cheap, it’s relaxing, and maybe someone will make you a cherry pie to enjoy with the book.

This article first appeared on June 17, 2022